Monday, October 18, 2010

Report Shows Decline in Donations

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago.

The Chronicle's Philanthropy 400 rankings show six of the top 10 charities reported declines in donations, including the United Way Worldwide and the Salvation Army.

In all, the 400 charities raised about $68.6 billion in 2009, according to the Chronicle. The median amount decreased from $105 million in 2008 to $98.8 million in 2009.

"Food for the Poor (No. 6) saw contributions fall by more than 27 percent, while donations to the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (No. 7) plunged by 40.3 percent, largely because it relies heavily on stock gifts, which were not very popular last year," a report from the Chronicle states.

But some charities enjoyed stronger donations. Catholic Charities USA had a 66 percent increase in donations, and the AmeriCares Foundation saw an 18.1 percent rise in giving, mostly in food, medicine, and other donated goods, according to the Chronicle. Feed the Children and Habitat for Humanity also grew by more than $1 billion.

The Philanthropy 400 list ranks charities that raise the most from private sources, The Chronicle said. Government funds are not counted. Read more here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

September 13 and 14: To Preserve and Protect: Security Solutions for New York’s Historical

To Preserve and Protect: Security Solutions for New York’s Historical

Theft of historical documents plagues records repositories. With
careful planning, awareness of warning signs and proactive security
solutions, organizations can reduce the window of opportunity for
historical record theft. Archival security expert Mimi Bowling will
provide an interactive curriculum during this full-day workshop on
archival security, preparing participants to take immediate action to
strengthen their local security programs. Participants will receive a
certificate upon completion. There is no cost.

Topics include:

risk awareness
insider theft
facility design and security technology
security of information systems
working with vendors and contractors
research room management and design
developing institutional security policies
procedures and post-theft response
additional topics as requested by participants.
Workshop Schedule

Rochester Region

September 13, 2010 (Monday)
Ontario County Safety Training Center
Canandaigua, Ontario, NY
Western NY Region
September 14, 2010 (Tuesday)
Erie 1 BOCES
West Seneca, Erie, NY

Central NY Region

October 4, 2010 (Monday)
Utica Public Library
Utica, Oneida, NY

South Central NY Region

October 5, 2010 (Tuesday)
Roberson Museum and Science Center
Binghamton, Broome, NY

Hudson Valley Region

March 7, 2011 (Monday)
Historic Huguenot Street
New Paltz, Ulster, NY

Capital Region

April 11, 2011 (Monday)
Crandall Public Library
Glens Falls, Warren, NY

Northern NY Region

April 18, 2011 (Monday)
Town of Massena
Massena, St. Lawrence, NY

Metro NYC Region and Long Island Region

Spring 2011

To register, please email or call
518-473-0130. Early registration is encouraged and appreciated; only
25 seats available.

This program is sponsored by the New York State Historical Records
Advisory Board, the New York State Archives, and the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Independent Contractors and Consultants – Advice For Your Nonprofit

NYCON's national association, The National Council of Nonprofits, offers Nonprofit Knowledge Matters and a look at Contractors and Consultants:

You’ve just hired an independent contractor or consultant to work on a special project. Did you first evaluate whether the worker should be treated as an employee instead? Does it matter?

Yes, it matters because the government makes a distinction between the two classifications of workers (independent contractor/consultant versus employee) and requires nonprofits to treat them differently for payroll and withholding purposes. Also, insurance issues will surface when the consultant is injured and tries to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Is she covered? It depends on whether she is a consultant – or not.

Federal and state governments have regulations that define who is an independent contractor/consultant and who is an employee. If a nonprofit misclassifies a worker, the nonprofit is at significant risk. There are serious penalties and back taxes owed when a nonprofit incorrectly treats someone as an independent contractor/ consultant, when in fact the worker should have been classified and treated as an employee.

Additionally there are risks to misclassifying a worker as an exempt employee, when s/he should be classified as non-exempt. For tips and tools for avoiding misclassifying workers, read more about this topic from the resources available on the National Council’s website.

IRS guidance provides that someone is properly classified as an independent contractor/consultant “when the nonprofit has the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.” We hope you feel comfortable with the distinction between independent contractors/consultants and employees. If you are not sure, here are some resources to help you classify workers correctly and avoid associated risks:

Spread the word: Deadline extended to October 15th for nonprofits to file their 990s.
Please join the State Association network of the National Council of Nonprofits, the IRS, and others to spread the word – to small nonprofits in particular – that they need to file with the IRS annually. Most urgently, many small nonprofits will lose their tax-exempt status if they have not filed in the past 3 years and fail to file by October 15th of this year. The IRS has announced a one-time relief program for nonprofits required to file the 990-N or 990-EZ that missed their deadline earlier this year.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2010 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award

Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)

In recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities, NYCON and NYSSCPA are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities.

Award Criteria & Submission
Candidates must:
  • Be a CPA in good standing and a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants;
  • Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once;
  • Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and
  • Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities.

Deadline - August 30th, 2010
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be submitted in writing and received by August 30th, 2010. Nominators are strongly encouraged to include letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.

Send six (6) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builder's Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
272 Broadway
Albany NY 12204

Announcement & Presentation
The 2010 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of September 30th at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York.

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge and skill development sessions for fiscal and management staff, as well as board members. New this year, it has expanded to include the popular "Money for Mission" tracks that will focus on fundraising, marketing, social media, grant making (both government and philanthropic) and more!

In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a certified public accountant who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2010 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award three (3) nonprofit executives of their choice Camp Finance scholarships in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builder's Award in his tribute.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters Update from National Council of Nonprofits

Five Worst Government Contracting Abuses
Late payments for contracted services is only one of many ways that governments shortchange nonprofits and exploit the contracting relationship. See the five worst government contracting abuses and let us know if you can add further documentation, if you've seen worse, or if you know of solutions in your state that help prevent these and other abuses.

Hearing to Consider Gulf Coast Need for Charitable Assistance
Viewing the impact of the Gulf oil spill on people in the region, Congress is asking "what needs to be done and how the charitable sector and others can reach out to these communities and help." The Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, July 20, to consider these questions and examine how donations contributed to charities are being used. In announcing the hearing, Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) stated, "This is the moment when government must rely on charitable organizations to fulfill their missions and address these urgent needs."

Rival Estate Tax Revisions Proposed
The estate tax expired at the end of 2009, but will snap back automatically in 2011 to a 55 percent tax rate with a $1 million exemption unless changes are made. Senators are proposing rival plans to weaken or strengthen the federal tax on estates. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced a measure last week to set the estate tax rate at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption phased in over 10 years and indexed for inflation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act, S.3533 to set an exemption of $3.5 million and impose tax rates from between 35 percent and 55 percent based on the size of the estate above the exemption level. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he does not intend to allow any estate tax votes in the coming weeks, but he continues to negotiate with the Republican Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the Senate schedule and amendments.

Financial Regulatory Reform Enacted, Cuts Debit Card Fees
Last week the Senate passed and sent to President Obama the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R.4173). The measure imposes new restrictions on risky financial investments, creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve, and allows the Federal Reserve to regulate the amount of fees that nonprofits and merchants can be charged for debit card transactions. President Obama is expected to sign the bill this week.

Nonprofit Sector Act
Federal Data of "Uncertain Quality"
The case for the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act, H.R. 5533, was made recently by SubsidyScope, a program of Pew Charitable Trusts. In seeking to analyze the effects of tax subsidies and federal grants, the authors reached the following conclusions:

"It is challenging to assemble and present spending and subsidy data regarding the nonprofit sector because the federal government does not identify nonprofits as a distinct budget category. Further, federal budget data are of uncertain quality; specifically, the data available through are incomplete because certain program information is missing for a number of records, making it difficult to discern which specific agencies and programs may be awarding funds to nonprofits."

A key component of H.R. 5533 is to overcome the data challenges that SubsidyScope, and many other nonprofit researchers, have identified.

IRS Seeks Comments on New Disclosure Requirement
The health care reform law enacted earlier this year requires nonprofits and businesses, starting in 2012, to report aggregate payments to vendors in excess of $600 for goods and other property. The requirement applies for payments to all vendors, not just those related to health care. Currently, nonprofits and others are required to file Form 1099s for payment of services by independent contractors, but not for goods from vendors. The IRS is seeking public comment on how to most effectively carry out the law change, with the stated goal of minimizing burdens and avoiding duplicate reporting. The deadline for comments is Sept. 29, 2010. Please share this information with your accounting and operations personnel and send the National Council your ideas on how best to limit the impact of this new reporting requirement.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Golden Rule of Board Resignations

Board Cafe • By Jan Masaoka • June 18, 2010
At some point you may resign from a nonprofit board before your term is up. You might be angry, disappointed, or just too busy. Don't botch your resignation: do it right.

Most often as board members we stick out our term limits and leave the board feeling good about what we''ve contributed. But there are also times when you resign before your term is up. Maybe you've missed a lot of meetings or maybe you're moving to another city. Maybe you're uneasy with the direction the organization is taking, or maybe you feel that as a board member you are treated like a "mushroom": kept in the dark and fed manure (!).

Regardless of your reason, you can just walk away quietly, or make a weak excuse, or you can use the moment to give meaning to your resignation, both to you and to the board.

Following are some ways to make significance out of your resignation: Read more here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NY comes up last in volunteerism

The Albany Business Review reported that New Yorkers are not very beneficent when it comes to giving their time. Not at all.

In fact, the Empire State ranks 51st out of 50 states and Washington D.C. when it comes to volunteering, according to the annual Volunteering in America report.

Nationally, however, about 1.6 million more volunteers served in 2009 than in 2008, making this the largest single-year increase in the number of volunteers since 2003, when data was first collected for the study. The report is produced by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government-sponsored nonprofit. Higher unemployment rates also increase volunteerism.

Nationwide, a total of 63.4 million volunteers contributed 8.1 billion hours of service in 2009, an estimated dollar value $169 billion. Overall, the volunteering rate increased in 2009 to 26.8 percent, up from 26.4 percent in 2008.

Volunteering data used in the annual report is gathered through the Current Population Survey, conducted monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Volunteers are defined as individuals ages 16 and over who perform unpaid activities for or through an organization.

The study showed that 2.9 million, or 19 percent, of New York residents volunteered in 2007-2009, compared with the national average of 26.8 percent. The Capital Region fared better, but still placed in the lower half of the rankings. It ranked 44th out of the 75 mid-sized cities that were studied for the report, with 27.1 percent, or 200,000, of its residents volunteering.

Compared with other mid-sized cities in New York, the Capital Region placed behind Binghamton, ranked 30th, and Poughkeepsie, ranked 41st, and ahead of 71st-ranked Syracuse. Nationally, Provo, Utah, ranked first among mid-sized cities and El Paso, Texas, was last. Utah was the top state for volunteerism.

Volunteers in New York contributed 405.5 million hours, or $8.5 billion worth in service from 2007-2009.

Read more: New York dead-last in volunteerism - The Business Review (Albany)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

United Way now one in Niagara

Buffalo Business First reported that two United Way agencies in Niagara County have completed a consolidation, creating a $1.6 million agency that will serve over 80,000 county residents.

The United Way of Greater Niagara brings together the United Way of Niagara and the Eastern Niagara United Way, which together support 75 different human service programs run by 21 service providers.

Carol Houwaart-Diez, executive director of the new group, says together the agencies will be able to cut costs for business services like insurance rates and rental property, with the savings going back into program allocations to benefit county residents.

As the agency completes the second phase of a needs assessment process, the services funded by the agency may also change, she says.

“Now we’re trying to find out the gaps in the community. Once we find that out, we will determine if there will be significant changes,” she says.

With headquarters in Niagara Falls on Military Road, the agency will shut down its full time Lockview Plaza site this month and open a part-time community service office in Lockport’s Bewley Building. The new organization has seven employees and a 20-member board of directors.

Companies in the region will have one Day of Caring event, one meeting for agency CEOs and one funding process – saving them time and effort.

Initially, the consolidation plan that began four years ago called for bringing together all three United Way agencies in Niagara County, but talks with the United Way of the Tonawandas fell through after members voted it down on two separate occasions.

Read more: United Way now one in Niagara - Business First of Buffalo

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NYS has authority to review and approve health insurance rates

The Central NY Business Journal reported that the New York State Insurance Department again has the authority to review and approve health-insurance premium increases before they take effect.

Gov. David Paterson signed the bill allowing the reinstatement of the power today.
Since 2000, New York had regulated health-insurance premiums under a "file and use" law that "significantly" limited the state's ability to disapprove premium increases and allowed the insurance industry to regulate itself, the governor's office said in a news release.

The new law requires health insurers and health-maintenance organizations (HMOs) to make an application to the Insurance Department to implement premium increases.
The department would review the rate-increase applications, as well as the underlying calculations, to ensure that the rates are justified and not excessive, the governor's office said.

The law would apply to all rate increases taking effect on or after Oct. 1, 2010.
In addition, the legislation will immediately require health insurers and HMOs to spend more of every premium dollar they collect on medical claims.

In particular, the law raises the "medical-loss ratio," or the percentage of premium spent to provide medical care, from 75 percent to 82 percent for small businesses and from 80 percent to 82 percent for individuals.

In a statement released Tuesday night, the New York State Conference of BlueCross BlueShield Plans expressed "complete disappointment" over what it calls "government-imposed price controls." Read more here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Forum Features Discussion with NYS Comptroller and Strategic Alliances and Partnerships

The blog, Done by People, by Joe Brown, Principal and Founder of Slope Resources, LLC, offered the following recap of the "A Conversation with NYS Comptroller Thomas P. Di Napoli and Panel Discussion on Strategic Alliances & Partnerships."

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend a highly informative and engaging forum which brought together government and nonprofit representatives to discuss the topic of strategic alliances and partnerships among nonprofit organizations. While the discussion focused on New York State’s nonprofit sector, the challenges, considerations, and ideas discussed are applicable to organizations nationwide. In the absence of a video or audio recording of the session, I wanted to share this detailed recap and my impressions of the session.

The event was sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and held at the headquarters of New York State United Teachers (very nice digs, by the way) in Latham, New York, a few miles northeast of Albany.

Karen Bilowith, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, presided over the session. The approximately 75 attendees included representatives of various nonprofits, including arts, cultural, health, and human services organizations, as well as a number of funders and consultants (including yours truly). Following Ms. Bilowith’s welcoming comments, New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez provided brief opening remarks. Ms. Cortés-Vázquez assured the attendees that “most in government” recognize the importance of the nonprofit sector and rules and regulations pertaining to the sector should not be so onerous as to provide disincentives for staff, board members, and volunteers to participate.

I’m from the government, and…
Ms. Cortés-Vázquez then introduced the session’s keynote speaker, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The Office of the State Comptroller has responsibility for the review, approval, and payment of the state’s contracts with nonprofit organizations. Mr. DiNapoli noted the importance of the nonprofit sector to the state and its economy, citing 2006 statistics that the state’s approximately 24,000 nonprofits reported revenue of $133 billion and employed nearly 1.2 million people, or 17% of the state’s workforce. He quantified the state’s contractual bonds with the sector as consisting of nearly 31,000 active contracts totaling $14.6 billion, as of June 2009. Read more here.

The balance of the session was devoted to presentations and discussion by a panel consisting of:
■Doug Sauer, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) since 1980. NYCON’s membership represents approximately 1,600 charitable nonprofit organizations across New York State.
■Cristine Cioffi, who is a partner in the law firm of Cioffi • Slezak • Wildgrube P.C., but spoke primarily in her role as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ellis Medicine, an organization which resulted from the recent merger of three nonprofit hospitals in Schenectady County.
■David W. Palmquist, who as Manager of the New York State Museum’s Chartering Program, oversees the chartering of museums, historical societies, and similar cultural organizations with educational purposes across the state.
The panelists responded to questions posed by Ms. Bilowith, as well as several questions from audience members.

Doug Sauer
While all three of the panelists presented interesting perspectives on the potential of various collaborative models for nonprofit organizations, I was particularly impressed by Mr. Sauer’s insight and candor on a number of fronts. Early in his presentation, he discussed the recent proliferation of nonprofits, describing the creation of thousands of new organizations each year, many of which are not active, and the resultant saturated environment. (I was reminded of a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which noted that the number of nonprofit organizations nationwide has increased by 90% to 1.2 million since 1996). Read more here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Foundations offer loans as a way to help nonprofits

The Buffalo News reported that a $650,000 check in 2008 from the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York for a new program to assist the frail elderly in Cattaraugus County came with a caveat: Trustees of the foundation wanted the money back, with interest.

A single grant of that size was beyond the capacity of the foundation, so trustees decided instead to make it a loan.

The money allowed Community Care of Western New York to launch a program that will keep more than 200 rural elderly people safely in their homes. Without it, the project probably would have stalled.

"It would not have opened without us, and what is a really promising model for elder care in a rural community would have been lost," said Ann Monroe, foundation president.

Increasingly, foundations in Western New York and across the country are turning to loans, loan guarantees and other measures as a way to aid needy nonprofit organizations without giving away the store.

The John R. Oishei Foundation, the area's largest private foundation, currently has more than $12 million — nearly 4 percent of its $280 million asset base — being used in this fashion. And at least two other local foundations, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and the Joy Family Foundation, have experimented with alternative financing.

Known as "program-related investments," or more popularly "PRIs," the loans and loan guarantees are serving a dual purpose for foundations hammered by stock market losses in 2008.

PRIs, like grants, put money toward projects that might not otherwise get off the ground. Read more here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Gerald Archibald, from The Bonadio Group, offered the following viewpoint:

“I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.” Oprah Winfrey

When you are asked to contribute to this year’s United Way Campaign, please dig deep and be as generous as possible with your pledge. After 35 years as a volunteer and contributor to our United Way, I continue to believe that the United Way Campaign provides the life blood for continuation of critical programs and services to those who are less fortunate in our community.

In last month’s column, (“There’s a lot of room to operate between autonomy and takeover,” April 1), I referenced a question posed to me by a board member who asked whether her non-profit agency should merge with another.

Coincidentally, the week that article ran, I had an opportunity to hear United Way’s President Peter Carpino make the case to me, and other members of an Executive Committee on which I serve, why non-profits need to do business differently.

United Way takes this subject very seriously… so seriously, in fact, that its Board has made a five-year commitment to a “Non-profit Sustainability Initiative.” United Way also has assembled a 12-member consortium with representatives from organizations that are interested in and committed to this issue as well.

The consortium’s membership is impressive and includes the Simon School, RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SUNY Brockport, the Council of Agency Executives, the New York Council of Non-Profits, the Rochester Business Alliance, The Community Foundation, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the Greater Rochester Quality Council, the Center for Governmental Research, and Grantmakers Forum of New York.

There’s no question in my mind that United Way is the right organization to assume leadership on this issue and that the time is right for them to do so.

Consider this:

New York State is facing a projected $27.5 billion deficit over the next three years;
Rochester’s United Way has raised $7.5 million less in the past four years, including $3.5 million less last year alone;

Given the impact that last year’s market downturn had on foundations’ endowments, grant making was reduced significantly.

The concept of sustainability is not new to United Way. Over the past 15 years, through its Synergy Fund, United Way has invested nearly $1 million to support increased efficiencies among not-for-profits through organizational re-engineerings ranging from co-locations to mergers. Recent successes include the Ibero-PRYD merger and AIDS Rochester-AIDS Community Health Center merger (now called AIDS Care).

Carpino noted that, given current economic realities, conditions are ripe for non-profits to explore restructuring and other forms of cost-effective collaboration more intentionally and to assess what is the right level of competition (given that too much competition can lead to service duplication).

And, he said, public and private funders no longer have the capacity (or, in some cases, the willingness) to support all the programs they’ve supported in the past. Therefore, non-profits should seek out and take advantage of opportunities to sharpen their focus or modify their priorities in light of changing community priorities. Read more here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The Cobblestone Society Museum is seeking an Executive Director/Curator. Founded in 1960 to preserve three National Historic Landmark Designated cobblestone buildings in the hamlet of Childs, NY, the Cobblestone Society is a small historical society which has grown to encompass a Museum consisting of 8 historic buildings, including furnished buildings and a Resource Center which houses the Museum’s library. Located in a rural Western New York community in Orleans County, approximately 30 miles west of Rochester, NY, the Museum is just north of the Village of Albion, NY and the historic Erie Canal.

The position of Executive Director/Curator requires a passion for history along with previous non-profit leadership and management, fundraising and grantwriting experience, strong communication skills, excellent writing and interpersonal skills and the ability to form productive relationships with the Board of Trustees, volunteers and the community. A minimum of an undergraduate degree in museum studies, American history or related field and three years experience will be required. The position administers the organization’s day-to-day operation, including membership development, volunteers, database and website management, the historic buildings, and management of the collections. Responsibilities also include educational and fundraising programs, grantwriting, supervising volunteers and coordinating programs, events and publications in cooperation with an active Board of Trustees. Anticipated start date is November 1, 2010. See the Cobblestone Society Museum’s website ( for a complete job description and required qualifications. EOE

Applications, which must include six (6) copies of a cover letter and resume, must be postmarked by June 15, 2010 and should be mailed to: Search Committee, Cobblestone Society Museum, P.O. Box 363, Albion NY 14411.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NYS offers new online tool for nonprofits

The Albany Business Review reported that the state has created a new tool to help nonprofit organizations—and people interested in starting nonprofits—find resources necessary to deal with tax and labor issues and find other resources.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the tools, found on the website, will help New Yorkers find federal, state and local government resources.

That information includes:

• General resources about nonprofits
• Lobbying
• Working with employees and volunteers
• Fundraising help.

“Nonprofit organizations are vital to New York, not only for the services they provide but for the jobs they create,” DiNapoli said.

There are about 1.2 million New Yorkers working for more than 24,000 nonprofits with revenue of $133 million in the state, the comptroller said. That represents about 17 percent of the state’s work force.

Read more: NY provides online help for nonprofits - The Business Review (Albany)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nonprofits can save the cost of payroll taxes through 2010

NYCON's national partner, the National Council of Nonprofits, has provided the following information for nonprofits:

On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act), a $17 billion jobs package that includes temporary tax incentives to encourage employers to hire new workers. The main job-creation incentive allows most employers, including nonprofits, to keep the 6.2 percent payroll taxes on certain new hires, thus lowering their cost. This payroll tax forgiveness provision expires at the end of the year, so nonprofits will save more the sooner they hire eligible unemployed workers.

What You Need To Know:

The IRS released a statement on their newswire and posted general answers on their website offering a brief outline of the credit. Here are answers to the five key questions that most nonprofits need to know:

1.Is my nonprofit eligible? Yes. All 501(c) nonprofits are eligible.

2.Who do I need to hire to get the credit? There are four criteria that apply to any person hired after February 3:
a.The individual must sign a new IRS Form W-11, Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Employee Affidavit, certifying that he/she has not worked more than 40 hours in the previous 60 days. (The IRS is currently developing a form employees can use to make the required statement.)
b.The new hire cannot replace an existing employee. It is okay to fill vacancies for individuals who left voluntarily or for cause. It is also permissible to rehire a laid-off employee who otherwise qualifies as an eligible employee.
c.The new hire is not related to a fiduciary of the organization.
d.The work the employee is doing must be in furtherance of the employer’s tax-exempt purpose.

3.How do you claim the credit? Employers claim the payroll tax exemption on their quarterly Form 941, beginning with the second quarter of 2010. The credit applies to the employer’s 6.2 percent share of social security tax on all wages paid to qualified employees. The employee’s 6.2 percent share of social security tax and both the employer’s and employee’s shares of Medicare taxes still apply to all wages. The IRS has posted a draft form 941 on its website and will release a final form next month along with the form’s instructions.

4.How long can I claim the credit? March 19 through December 31, 2010. As an example, for a person who starts work on April 1, the nonprofit keeps the payroll tax money that would otherwise be withheld, amounting to a savings of $1860 for someone with an annual salary of $40,000 (savings of 6.2% payroll taxes on $30,000 which is 9 months of salary).

5.Can I claim the $1000 bonus if the employee stays on the payroll for 52 weeks? Normally, no. The law includes a $1000 bonus credit that can only be applied to business income tax liability. Nonprofits are exempt from this liability, except in the area of unrelated business income.

For more info, click here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

April 29th BACK TO BASICS for tough times

Association of Fundraising Professionals
Genesee Valley Chapter

For immediate release Contact:
March 19, 2010 Deborah Zeger, Conference Chair 585-329-8032 or

BACK TO BASICS for tough times

The troubled economy is challenging many non-profit organizations to tighten their financial belts and shore up their funding bases. That’s the genesis behind BACK TO BASICS, a regional conference to help volunteers and professionals hone their fundraising skills and connect with others in the field.

On April 29th, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Genesee Valley Chapter will host its annual Great Lakes Regional Conference at Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester. The event is one of the premier fundraising conferences in the Northeast and is expected to attract some 200 attendees from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and the Finger Lakes.

“The conference offers a range of practical workshops that provide relevant and usable information to help non-profits navigate these changing times,” explains Deborah Zeger, the conference chair.

BACK TO BASICS will feature Roberta (Robbe) A. Healey, Chair of the Board of Directors of AFP International, who has more than thirty years experience in non-profit organization management and development. Healey, who has lived and worked in Western New York, will share her unique perspective about how to “Crisis Proof Your Fundraising Program.”

Other headline speakers include Frank Interlichia, Associate Vice President for University Advancement and Martha Krohn, Executive Director of Annual Giving Programs. Both speakers are with the University of Rochester and will give a joint talk about the University’s success in growing its Annual Fund despite the recession.

The AFP Genesee Valley Chapter offers several financial incentives to make it easier for volunteers and professionals to attend the conference. Those incentives include Meyers Scholarships for members and non-members, a discount for early registration (by March 26th), half-day or lunch only participation, a new member discount and multiple-attendee discount. For more information, visit and look for information about the conference and Meyers Scholarships.

Conference sponsors include the University of Rochester, Temple B’rith Kodesh, Advanced Marketing Direct, Oser Press and Parachute Graphic Design and Writing.
* * * * *

Who: AFP Genesee Valley Chapter is a volunteer-based organization representing more that 250 fundraising professionals in the Greater Rochester area. As part of an international organization of fundraising professionals, our mission is to advocate for philanthropy and promote ethical and successful non-profit development by addressing the needs of diverse professionals in our region. Our members represent colleges, universities and secondary schools, hospitals and health care facilities, social service and cultural agencies, and local charities.

What: Great Lakes Regional Conference, BACK TO BASICS, featuring Roberta (Robbe) A. Healey, Chair, AFP International. The event is open to the public.

When: Thursday, April 29, 2010 from 8:00 am to 4:15 pm.

Where: Temple B’rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester.

How: Visit and register on-line.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bumpy ride for corporate giving amid recession

Reuters reported that giving by U.S. companies endured the worst recession in decades with mixed results as some pared back philanthropy in the face of tough times, others increased budgets and most predicted a steady 2010.

The economic downturn sparked some changes in giving priorities as well, with several companies placing more importance on basic needs such as fighting hunger and homelessness and others focusing more in their local communities.

"This is not just giving money anymore. It's solving problems. These are social issues that we're addressing," said Charles Moore, executive director of the nonprofit Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

"Companies continue to examine their priorities. Very few are taking on new kinds of causes, and they are tending to reallocate the funds they do have," he said. "There's great expectation on the part of communities and (employees) on companies -- they expect more."

Reuters spoke to 10 companies whose philanthropic arms are ranked by the Foundation Center among the top U.S. foundations. Four said the dollar value of their giving increased in 2009, two said it remained steady, and four said it dropped. Read more here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tax Exemptions Eyed as Plug for Budget Gaps

The NY Times reported that faced with steep declines in tax revenue, an increasing number of states and localities are considering eliminating various tax exemptions for nonprofit groups.

A bill before the Hawaii Legislature, for instance, would require charities to pay a 1 percent tax, and Kansas is considering making them subject to sales taxes.

Revoking the nonprofit organizations’ exemptions from property taxes is also under scrutiny in several counties in Kansas, as well as in Pennsylvania.

And last fall, Minneapolis made charities subject to the fees it charges businesses and residents for streetlights in hope of gaining an additional $155,000, an exercise Jon Pratt, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, describes as “looking under the sofa cushions.”

In most cases, churches would be exempt from the tax measures, but all other nonprofit groups, including private schools and colleges, would be affected.

City and state officials say they have no choice.

“We’re having to look at the public services nonprofits use and how we can adequately cover those costs,” said Matt Greller, executive director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. “We can’t give them away for free any longer.”

Nonprofit groups say the moves to wring revenue out of them are shortsighted and will produce cutbacks in critical services that governments rely on them to provide, like mental health and emergency foster care services.

“Nonprofits are really hurting in this economy,” said Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, a trade association. “Their revenues are down, too, and demand for the services they provide, services that government expects them to provide, is way up.” Read more here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Landmark Society Sets Public Meeting for Ideas Around Reuse of Closing Site

On February 8, 2010, The Landmark Society Board of Trustees approved a motion to cease museum operations at the Campbell-Whittlesey house on July 1, 2010, and to begin active marketing of the property in August.

The decision to close the house museum at Campbell-Whittlesey is the end result of over five years of strategic planning and in-depth studies of opportunities for the property’s use.

We’re holding a public meeting to welcome ideas for adaptive re-use of the site. It’s important to note that we all remain committed to the exploration of viable options that support the proper stewardship and the maintenance of the integrity of this historic treasure.

The meeting is scheduled for March 4, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. We will meet in the 8th floor conference room of the Powers Building located at 16 West Main Street, in Rochester. The meeting will be facilitated by our consultant, Laura Roberts. Trustees and staff will be on hand to answer question on the process – but the main focus of the meeting will be to gather public input on the re-use of the site, while maintaining the architectural integrity of this amazing Greek Revival house.

Parking is available at the Sister Cities Garage located at 28 North Fitzhugh Street, at a rate of $1.00 an hour. Although the Powers Building has several points of entry, the only entrance provided for our meeting will be through the 3rd level skyway positioned at the southeast corner of the Sister Cities Garage. Several greeters will be strategically stationed to assist attendees with navigation to the 8th floor conference room until 5:45 p.m. Please RSVP by calling Carolyn at 546-7029 x 10 or

The Landmark Society: Revitalizing Yesterday, Protecting Today, and Planning for Tomorrow

Friday, February 19, 2010

Closure for NYS Parks and Historic Sites Proposed

The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) today put forward a recommended list of closures and service reductions in order to achieve its 2010-11 agency savings target and help address the State's historic fiscal difficulties.

Governor David A. Paterson issued the following statement:

"New York faces an historic fiscal crisis of unprecedented magnitude. It has demanded many difficult but necessary decisions to help ensure the fiscal integrity of our State. The unfortunate reality of closing an $8.2 billion deficit is that there is less money available for many worthy services and programs. In an environment when we have to cut funding to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and social services, no area of State spending, including parks and historic sites, could be exempt from reductions. We cannot mortgage our State's financial future through further gimmicks or avoidance behavior. Spending cuts, however difficult, are needed in order to put New York on the road to fiscal recovery. Going forward through the budget process, I look forward to a productive dialogue with the Legislature on parks and historic sites, as well as other issues."

OPRHP Commissioner Carol Ash issued the following statement:

"The 2010-11 Executive Budget included reductions to every area of State spending. As such, the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has today put forward proposed closures and service reductions to meet its agency savings target. These actions were not recommended lightly, but they are necessary to address our State's extraordinary fiscal difficulties."


A fact sheet on the proposed closures and service reductions is included below:

The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) today put forward a list of closures and service reductions in order to achieve its proposed 2010-11 agency savings target and help address the State's historic fiscal difficulties. As part of a comprehensive plan to close an $8.2 billion deficit, the 2010-11 Executive Budget included necessary cost reductions to each executive State agency, as well as cuts to education, health care, social services, and every other area of State spending.

OPRHP's plan includes the closure of 41 parks and 14 historic sites, and service reductions at 23 parks and 1 historic site.

The plan also assumes $4 million in park and historic site fee increases that will be identified at a later date, and the use of $5 million in funds from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to finance OPRHP operations. These two actions were part of the 21-day amendments to the Executive Budget and are intended to reduce the number of parks and historic sites subject to closures and service reductions.

Specific recommended closures and service reductions are detailed here.

Oishei program focuses on basics

Buffalo Business First reported that the region’s largest private foundation has launched an initiative aimed at addressing basic human needs.

The John R. Oishei Foundation has invested $1 million in the initiative, designed to help residents find the help they need right in their own backyards.

The program will include three traveling teams comprised of nonprofit professionals with expertise in human and social services. The teams who will move throughout Erie and Niagara counties over the next two years, spending up to a month in each community.

Each team will work directly with agencies which already deliver services in the local areas to identify existing services as well as service gaps. At the end of each month in the given community, the team will hold a week-long community resource event to assist individuals and families who require human services support. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FREE Information Sessions on Filing the 990

The NY Council of Nonprofits' national partner, the National Council of Nonprofits, is offering two FREE webinars for you and your board members!

Get Ready, Get Set, Go! IRS Filing Requirements for Charitable Nonprofits
Two national webinars: February 23 and March 23, 2010

Register Now

Are you prepared for this year's tax filing deadline? Did you know that tax-exempt organizations could have their status revoked for not filing the annual Form 990? The National Council of Nonprofits will host two free webinars presented by the IRS for nonprofit organizations to learn about the resources available and answer questions about filing your IRS Form 990.

These webinars will include:
  • Critical steps to take now in order to protect and preserve your tax exemption.
  • Review of the filing requirements for nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, and the consequences of not filing (or filing an incomplete) Form 990-series return. Tax-exempt organizations now stand to lose their tax-exempt status if they do not file the Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N (e-postcard) for three consecutive years-these revocations will begin in 2010).

"Learn from the Experts: What Forms Must Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt Organizations File to Meet IRS Requirements and Preserve Tax Exempt Status?"

Tuesday, February 23
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Eastern

  • What forms are tax-exempt organizations required to file with the IRS annually?
  • What information is required to be reported on the forms?
  • Why your organization may need to file NOW, so that it won't lose its tax-exempt status
  • How to file complete, accurate returns to avoid IRS penalties.

There is no charge for nonprofit organizations or their board members for these webinars. Advance registration is required by February 22, 2010.

"Hear from the IRS: What The IRS Has Learned After One Year With the Redesigned Form 990"

Tuesday, March 23
3:30 pm - 4:30pm Eastern

  • What trends has the IRS observed in the first season of redesigned Form 990 filing?
  • What mistakes are most commonly being made by nonprofits on the redesigned Form 990?
  • What can a nonprofit do to streamline the filing process?
  • What are the answers to frequently asked questions about completing the 990?

There is no charge for nonprofit organizations or their board members for these webinars. Advance registration is required by March 22, 2010.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Some leaders optimistic about 2010

The Buffalo News reported that more local business leaders are optimistic heading into 2010 than they were last year, but the majority in the Buffalo Niagara region still expect things to stay gloomy or get worse, according to a survey released Wednesday.

A survey commissioned by First Niagara Bank and conducted by the Siena College Research Institute questioned business heads on their feelings about current economic conditions in their industries and in New York State, as well as their expectations for the year to come.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go,” said Donald Levy, director at the Siena College Research Institute. “We are in the beginning of a slow, cautious recovery, but the general public will not feel the benefits of it immediately.”

In the poll’s overall business confidence index of 0 to 200, Buffalo Niagara scored a 79.6. That’s a 113-percent increase over last year’s score of 37.2.

When asked just about their future expectations, Buffalo Niagara scored an 87.4, increasing 88 percent over last year.

Of those surveyed, 25 percent of business leaders here said they believe business conditions in New York State will improve, more than twice as many as felt that way heading into 2009.

And while 46 percent expect conditions to get worse, that number is down from 75 percent last year. And another 28 percent expect conditions to remain the same in 2010. Read more here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Recent Thefts in Museums Highlight Need for More Security and Risk Management

This was a recent message from the Upstate History Alliance in response to recent increase in museum thefts in NYS:

Hello UHA members,

In light of the recent news and the number of thefts at museums and historical societies in NY we thought this might be an opportunity to share some museum security resources and start a discussion on how we can best protect our collections. Below are some resources provided by the American Association of Museums to get us started.

What are your best prevention resources? Please share them with us. Do you train your volunteers on security issues? What are you own procedures?

The Association of College & Research Libraries (a division of the American Library Association) issued Guidelines Regarding Theft in Libraries. The guidelines outline ways to prevent theft and steps to take after a theft has been discovered. An appendix has a list of networking resources for protection and recovery.

The Museum Security Network has an article on Surviving a Collection Loss:
Working with Law Enforcement. It offers tips to prevent loss and actions to
take after a theft to assist in recovering the property. It also offers a
compilation of agencies and websites for reporting stolen property

The American Society for Industrial Security provides General Security Risk Assessment Guidelines (PDF). This 26-page document outlines a 7-step process for identifying security risks and developing appropriate solutions. Though not specific to museums, the principles are applicable. It includes a glossary of terms, a process flow chart, and a bibliography.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (UK) offers Security in Museums, Archives and Libraries: A Practical Guide (PDF). This 182-page comprehensive publication addresses building security, alarms, retail security, personal security, bag searches, key control, operating procedures, contractors, couriers, security staff, and crisis management planning. It includes sample forms for reporting incidents and crimes. It also has information about the government indemnity program that is specific to the UK. The Council partners with other cultural organizations to present Collections Link, a website with practical advice and short fact sheets on security topics, such as the use of CCTV, advice for architects and planners, and
display cases.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has a technical leaflet on Collections Security: Planning and Prevention for Libraries & Archives.
It discusses strategies for preventing theft and vandalism of collections, responding to a breach of security, and creating an effective security plan.
It includes a sample patron registration form, a sample procedures information sheet, and a lengthy bibliography.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Survey to understand environmental interests of WNY

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has created a survey to understand the environmental interests of the WNY public. This information will help guide the development of a new website for Western New Yorkers interested in environmental news and activities.

Complete this survey by January 15, 2010 and be entered to win an iPod nano or $100! To be eligible to win a survey prize, you must live in Western New York.

The survey can be completed at